Chicago Events to Get You in the Holiday Spirit

Light displays, parades, festivals and theater fill Chicago's event calendar in November and December, making it a magical time to be in the city. Chicago's famous museums have annual holiday exhibits and the most festive may be the Museum of Science & Industry's "Christmas Around the World and Holiday of Light" exhibit. It won't cost you a dime to stroll "Zoo Lights"  at Lincoln Park Zoo or to see the animated windows ringing Macy's on State Street (or do you still refer to it as Marshall Fields.) Afterward, go inside the store to shop and admire the towering Great Tree while indulging in a chicken pot pie (based on Mrs. Hering’s original recipe from 1890) at the famous Walnut Room, the first restaurant ever opened in a department store. If you want to play outdoors, rent ice skates and take a spin around the outdoor ice rinks at Millennium Park or Maggie Daley Park. Those who prefer to stay out of the cold might consider seeing one of Chicago's beloved holiday theater productions, such as Joffrey Ballet's "The Nutcracker."   If watching miniature trains of "Wonderland Express" at Chicago Botanic Garden or sipping warm wine at Christkindlmarket  don't knock the Scrooge out of you, nothing will! 



The 27th Annual BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival kicks off the 2018 holidays with two days of free, family-friendly activities and an evening tree-lighting parade along North Michigan Ave. The festival begins at Lights...  Read More



From Friday, Nov. 30, 2018 to Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, crowds pack Navy Pier even more than usual for this popular holiday festival. There are lights and decorations outdoors and inside Festival Hall, you'll find 170,000 square feet of carnival...  Read More



This massive museum, one of the first and best in the country, features more than 2,000 hands-on exhibits about everything from outer space to robots. During the holidays, locals and visitors are treated to the annual Christmas Around the World...  Read More

Joffrey Ballet's "The Nutcracker"
Photo courtesy of Cheryl Mann


Every boy and girl should see at least one ballet and the one that may keep the squirming to a minimum is The Joffrey Ballet's wonderful rendition of The Nutcracker. The critically acclaimed classic is reimagined by Tony Award®-winning...  Read More



Macy's on State Street marks the 51st Holiday Window Display and the 111th Annual Great Tree Lighting in 2018. .Walk from window to window to peek at Macy's nostalgic holiday display with each window featuring a different scene of animated...  Read More



Some 700,000 twinkling outdoor lights, an indoor model train exhibition and special events make Wonderland Express at Chicago Botanic Garden a beloved holiday tradition. The Esplanade features trees wrapped in lights and a massive evergreen tree...  Read More

Ice skating at Millennium Park
Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of Choose Chicago


If you dress for the weather, a fun holiday activity for families, friends or couples, is to take a spin around the outdoor ice skating rink in in the middle of Chicago's scenic Millennium Park. In the heart of downtown Chicago, on Michigan...  Read More

ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo
Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo


When the lights go down in the city, more than 2.5 million lights adorn the zoo during its annual ZooLights holiday tradition. For 24 years, the festive experience has offered free family-oriented holiday celebrations featuring the luminous...  Read More



From Nov. 16-Dec. 24, 2018, shop for Christmas gifts and then raise your beer steins at this popular seasonal German-themed market in the center of downtown Chicago. Pricey but beautiful ornaments, nutcrackers, cuckoo clocks and other unique...  Read More



It's worth the drive to see this creative holiday lights display in the beautiful arboretum. You won't see the usual images of Santa or Rudolph because nature is the star of this show. Illumination: Tree Lights at the Morton Arboretum is created...  Read More


Meet Jacky Runice

Born in Bucktown when bulletproof was a home safety choice and not a coffee order, Jacky Runice has been knocking around Chicago as a professional print, online and broadcast journalist and...  More About Jacky